BAC, London SW11
Opened 9 December, 2010
One of the joys of 2007’s Edinburgh Fringe was a show entitled Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea. Likened to “Shockheaded Peter done by posh girls”, it was a collection of gleefully dark cautionary tales performed by a trio of white-faced young women (one of them on piano) against excellently executed mock-Expressionist animations. The delight was not just in the show itself, but in the discovery of a company – named 1927 – who promised further and greater pleasures in the future.
Their follow-up show has taken a while, but it bears out all the predictions and anticipations beautifully. The Animals And Children Took To The Streets both preserves and builds on the company’s stylistic foundations: once again Suzanne Andrade writes and directs; she, Esme Appleton and musician/composer Lillian Henley perform, and Paul Bill Barritt provides wonderful animation and film backgrounds, this time Constructivist- as well as Expressionist-influenced. I say “backgrounds”, but they are integral to the action: they provide the tenement wall through a window of which Andrade peers, the supporting cast of unruly “pirate” children and even one of the principal characters.
Rather than a series of sketches, this is a more unified whole, portraying life in a seedy corner of an unnamed big city, in Bayou Mansions in Red Herring Street, a place not unlike poet John Cooper Clarke’s Beazley Street, where “the rats have all got rickets/ They spit through broken teeth.” Cockroaches and lizards crawl over Barritt’s projected walls as Andrade narrates and plays a junk-shop owner and fence whose daughter (Appleton) heads the delinquent and revolutionary Pirate gang. When the city authorities embark on an extreme programme of pacification, one of the children kidnapped is the (animated) younger sister of Agnes (Appleton again), whose rescue is attempted by the Bayou’s caretaker (Andrade again) in the hope of winning Agnes’ love. Does he succeed? Sometimes: the audience is given an option of “Realist” or “Idealist” endings. (The night I saw it, the house was defiantly bah-humbug in its choice.) Henley provides supporting performances and piano accompaniment which ranges from silent-movie-type vamping to deliriously black songs in which Andrade’s lyrics rhyme, for instance, “kitchen sink” with “Maeterlinck”. This is a perfect alternative Christmas show. In fact, it is a perfect alternative show. In fact, it is a perfect show.

Written for the Financial Times.

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

Return to index of reviews for the year 2010

Return to master reviews index

Return to main theatre page

Return to Shutters homepage